A/N: I've always like half-birthdays more than birthdays themselves. Getting a half package of double bubble, say, or half of a chocolate cake, is always better than the usual greeting cards and gift certificates, and nobody makes a big deal about singing to you. So when I saw that Sapphy's half-birthday was coming up, it didn't take long for a random plot bunny to be born...and the rest, I guess, is history. The plan (or at least the closest I've ever come to really planning anything) is that the last chapter will be up in time for Sapphy's half-birthday on March twenty- fifth, at which point you will all be obliged to send her half-greetings. Half-reviews, of course, will be accepted.

And now, on to the fic!


Racetrack's Quest


Racetrack stomped out of the bunkroom. He stomped down the stairs and out the door. He stomped over to the distribution office. Finally, he quit stomping around and stood very still, as he suddenly realized that he had no idea what he was so upset about.

"Heya, twinkletoes," Jack said grimly, looking up from where he was repairing his motorcycle (motorcycle? Now where did that come from?)--er, selling his papes.

Racetrack didn't reply, still deep in thought. Suddenly, it came to him. "Jack!" he said, "d'you know what day it is?"

"Thursday?" Jack suggested, not really paying attention.

"No—it's gonna be Sapphy's birthday in"--he checked his pocket watch-- "sixteen minutes, an' I haven't gotten her a present yet!"

Jack answered, but was drowned out by a sudden roar from his motorcycle engine--er, his newspapers scattering to the ground.

"Huh?" said Racetrack, perplexed.

"I said, 'youse don't have to worry about gettin' Sapph a present 'cause she's doin' half birthdays dis year. Ya got six whole months ta figure it out.'" Jack turned back to his motorcycle and began adjusting the seat.

"Well, whaddaya know," Race said thoughtfully, happy that he would have some extra time to consider Sapphy's present. Then he stomped back to the lodging house and promptly forgot about it for another six months.




Racetrack stomped out of the bunkroom. He stomped down the stairs and out the door. He stomped down to the distribution office. Just when things were beginning to seem a little too familiar, he looked up to see Jack sitting on the pavement working on his motorcycle, his cowboy hat and bandanna replaced by a leather jacket and a pair of rather stylish (if entirely historically inaccurate) Wayfarer Ray-Bans.

Race whistled. "Smooth ride. Where'd ya get the bike?"

"No idea," Jack said cheerfully. He set down his wrench and got up, dusting himself off. "What's th' problem, Race?"

"Who said there was a problem?" Racetrack asked defensively.

"Please. I could hear ya stompin' around from five blocks away."

"Oh." Racetrack sighed, looked Jack up and down, and decided to share his problem with him. "Jack, I jus' realized that we're celebratin' Sapphy's half-birthday tanight, an' I still haven't gotten her a present."

"Yeah," Jack said, trying vaguely to sound as if he was listening as he craned his neck to catch a glimpse of himself in the chrome-plated fender of his bike. He was looking quite spiffy, if did say so himself.

"...an' I know I gotta get her somethin' real special, too. I jus' don' know what ta do."

"That present Sapphy got you for your half-birthday last November really was pretty nice," Jack admitted.

"A permanent box at the Sheepshead races," Racetrack said dreamily. "I always wondered how she knew just what I wanted, widout even askin'."

Could be because you go around singing about it all the live-long day, Jack thought but didn't say. He was feeling just a little bit jealous of Race's happiness with Sapphy, and almost wished he had a girl who cared for him like that, and would buy him what he wanted for his half-birthday. Like a pony.

"...a' course, I only got half a box, on account a' half-birthday presents always gotta be half," Racetrack continued, oblivious.

"Well, that's something right there," Jack said quickly. "Whatever you're gonna get 'er, you only gotta get half a' one. Doesn't that help ya, Race?"

"Not really."

"Oh." Jack sighed, crouching back down and beginning to polish his bike, dejectedly humming "Born to be Wild" in the hopes that Race would take a hint and go away.

"So, ya gonna help me, Jack?"

"Ah, Race, I wish I could, but I...uh...gotta fix th' exhaust discombobulator, an' the diesel transmogrification valve is loose. Could take hours. Tell ya what, though, why don't ya go ask Snipes an' Tumbler an' the other kids? Kids know all about presents, y'know."

"Oh, okay!" Race said brightly. "Thanks, Jack!" With that he skipped off to the lodging house, leaving Jack to work on his bike.